A recent report by Bellwether Education Partners explores potential strategies for the state to improve teacher preparation strategies and address the worsening shortages. With teacher preparation programs producing far fewer teachers than needed by the state, California has been relying on non-credentialed teachers to fill the gap. Bellwether’s report, Rethinking Teacher Preparation: Empowering Local Schools to Solve the Teacher Shortage and Build Better Teachers, suggests that improving the quality of teacher preparation in the state will require a profound shift in the way that districts, teacher preparation programs, states and candidates themselves think about their roles in cultivating the supply of high-quality teachers.

The report emphasizes the significant role teacher preparation plays in teacher quality and student learning. As noted in the report, “The benefit to students of having a teacher from the best teacher preparation programs is comparable to that of lowering class size by five to 10 students.” However, the report also points out there are several flaws in the current system, including a lack of communication and coordination between preparation programs and districts.

According to the report, strategies of effective teacher preparation partnerships include:

— Share and analyze district data on hiring needs and completer outcomes with preparation programs.
— Align preparation programs’ standards and expectations for program completers with districts’ needs and expectations for new teachers.
— Co-create new types of programs that address district and candidate needs.
— Strengthen clinical fieldwork by providing effective teacher-mentors and treating student teaching as a recruiting tool for districts.
— Recruit prospective teachers.
— Connect teacher preparation with other human capital strategies.

The report profiles the Fresno Teacher Residency as an example of a preparation program addressing the specific need of recruiting high-quality STEM teachers in the state.